Sen Hawley Will Join House Republicans To Force Debate Over Electoral College Results

By Claire Hardwick

The day after the Georgia special election which will determine which party gets the upper chamber majority, Capitol Hill will be holding their own form of an election. As President Trump has for weeks claimed significant voter fraud as the reason for his loss in the presidential election, his prospects looked bleak as the Supreme Court and state courts threw out every legal case his campaign or others filed to try to change the election results. But now, President Trump has turned another corner, as Senator Hawley from Missouri said he would support the House Republican’s in their plan to force a debate and a vote on the Electoral College results.

In a statement today, Hawley said, “I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws. And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden. At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.”

On January 6th, Congress will hold a joint session to formally count and confirm the electoral college results. This count is a crucial part to the electoral college process, and ensures a peaceful transition of power from the people’s representatives from all fifty states. But following the election, a small group of conservatives in the House have been pushing to interrupt the process and force a debate. In order to do this, they need one senator to also force a debate. 

Well, now they have one. What happens next is the House members and the Senate members go back to their respective chambers for two hours of debate. The goal of this debate would then be for Congressional members to change their vote and not confirm the electoral college victory for Joe Biden. While this idea has already been thrown around, Senate leadership has said it will go no where. Senator John Thune said recently, “I mean, in the Senate, it would … go down like a shot dog. I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be.”

Thune’s comments, of course, drew heavy criticism from the Trump crowd, but show that in Congress, Republicans as a whole are moving on and forward. So now, what we see is a different form of politics, and that is one for a presidential bid. 

Why this matters: It is no secret in Washington that Senator Hawley views himself as a serious presidential contender. As President Trump prepares to leave office, Republicans have already started to look towards 2024. Even Trump’s two children, Ivanka and Don Jr., have made recent decisions that hint at a desire to pick up their father’s mantle. Hawley’s decision to join the House Republicans and force a debate will garner Trump’s praise, as well as his base’s. The problem, however, is that he is putting members of his party at risk. If they don’t side with the president and vote against the electoral college results, Trump’s base will come after them, and they will most likely be primaries by a candidate that supports Trump’s election fraud accusations. 

Hawley is thinking for himself, as many politicians do in Washington. What will be interesting in the next few days is if other Republican senators join him. The numbers already show, as Thune pointed out, that Biden will be confirmed. So as the party splits over this issue, we will be able to forecast what the next four years may look like for the Republican Party. The other problem is the risky House seats for Republicans in 2022. This debate and vote will also put them in the spotlight, and if they vote against the electoral college results, that may hurt their reelection and the House GOP’s effort to win the majority. 

As the Republicans move towards a post-Trump world, the question on everyone’s mind is how much control the president will still have on the party and the election process. January 6th will give us an idea, and the effects of how each member votes will show the direction of the party.